Three very short stories (from Hypnotic Labyrinth)
by Andriana Minou
When I used to live with Mr Playmobil in a yellow room of yellow bricks it was midday all day the time of little nothings our shadows were straightened we would stand very tall a bit vulgar we would stretch the tops of our heads towards the sun and we would say nothing at all or think nothing at all or feel nothing at all there was no crime that hadn’t been organised already or a penalty that hadn’t already been reduced we diminished and lessened out of fear of diminishing lessening we diminished and lessened with the manic desire to become two little nothings holding hands two little nothings of plastic childishness filled with songs permeating each other through concave and convex fixtures and cachectic recollections of a vacant simplicity
-What’s the matter?
Mr Playmobil was so tender tender Mr Playmobil forgetting me little by little gently tactfully absolutely focusing on whatever it was he was doing his rectilinear features were so adorable that’s why I made him take me to the cinema every evening not to watch a film but to crosseyedly peek at him immersing in the silver screen forgetting me little by little I would long for the moment I’d behold my favourite face of his the one I could see precisely the moment he would forget I existed altogether although I was still there sitting by his side still holding his hand softly pretending I was blowing bubbles in my fizzy drink slightly immaterial with a different kind of lightness this time in my turn supposedly immersing in the residue of my fizzy drink at the bottom of the glass bottle so that we could once again become two little nothings out of reflex now a bit smoother under the moonlight pseudo-secretly conducting our interabsence.
After midnight as soon as we got back to the yellow room of yellow bricks we used to grab a little broom and chase the glow-in-the-dark ghost back into the pensioner pirate’s treasure chest and then we’d lie in the grey plastic bed side by side in terror terrified we’d hold each other embraces heavier than remorse remorses sharper than words words pettier than a time running out with the precision of trivial things long little nights of nothingness filled with sweet nothings of guilt our guilt of never being enough of never being small enough to survive proximity of never managing to become two little nothings that would only fit inside each other exactly as much as necessary in this world that scatters its fleshy deceit all around us with a bang violently tyrannically whole every dawn no deluge no reboot only this tomorrow that will already be a new day before we get a chance to finish with the now that presses itself against our bodies demandingly
-What do you want?
In any case it’s always a little simpler in dreams we will always lock ourselves up in there my dear Mr Playmobil we don’t have to arrange a date all routes will be melting like flaming telegraph wires unable to bear such annihilation of such distance they will simply become a crowd of copies of our encounter my dear Mr Playmobil in dreams it’s always a little simpler to be as plenty as a nothing
He dips his feet in the water because he has forgotten how to walk on it. He’s neither an illusionist nor of aristocratic descent, he’s not even carrying any luggage because every night he sets all his belongings on fire in his living room. It’s not a pirate ship, the sailors don’t wear eye-patches, they don’t drink rum, just non-fizzy soft drinks as they solve crosswords and Sudoku puzzles. He knows where he’s going, but they don’t. The sea is a thin blue gauze, so shallow that the ship is scraping the seabed, so shallow he could have just walked to his destination instead, but, as mentioned above, he can’t remember how to walk on water, and he doesn’t want to wet his ankles, he’s very shy and he hates being the centre of attention. He reached the harbour which was definitely the one, just like any other harbour at the edge of a shallow sea of thin blue gauze. He reaches the harbour and waits for her. But she’s late. It doesn’t matter, though, she’s worth the wait, she’s pretty, not too pretty, just as much as necessary, she’s wearing a loose white dress and a chic cactus wreath, her voice is soft like the inside of an unripe chestnut, but she’s not coming. There’s no point in him calling out her name, firstly because he doesn’t know it and secondly because she usually wears earphones, as she always prefers to cover vulgar harbour voices with some Goldberg variations or a bit of Cole Porter. Waiting is the only option, then. Without wondering what or how or why, if he should, if he could, if he’s able to, if he’s allowed to, if he’s just a character in a book by Mr Beckett or Ms Austen, if something’s happened to her, if she’s simply ignoring him pompously or not pompously, if she’s not even aware of his existence, if their date was set for a different time, if there’s no date at all. He’s waiting very skilfully, he’s a virtuoso. After all, he has spent so many hours practising, perfecting the technique of waiting (he’s the guru of the queue at the super market, the cash dispenser, the changing rooms or the Ferris wheel, the archbishop of rush hour, the professor of the waiting room at the dentist’s, the godfather of check-in), that is, the ability to find the point lying equidistantly between what he’s waiting for and the hours that separate him from it and keep passing ruthlessly, to forget how many hours have passed, to disregard any meaning they might have, but to also not allow his life to hang from the desire of the moment it will appear, no matter what it is he’s waiting for. In other words, to remain focused on it without letting it crush him. He has spent so many hours practising this talent of his, a soloist of anticipation, who knows that this is it, the great recital, his debut at the Royal Albert Hall of the waiting, and he must show off his talent and then all will be easy, it will be the beginning of a wonderful life. Because the point where he’s been standing until now will have blended with the moment of the arrival of the woman he’s waiting for, and this brand new pocket time-space will be something like a lucky charm, or a magic pebble, and he’ll be free to leave, because he’ll be able to carry it wherever he goes. That’s why he keeps waiting, although she’s late. He keeps waiting for her even after he wakes up on his bed, his brain still soaked in sea mist. The fact that he wakes up, brushes his teeth, drinks coffee, goes to work, eats lunch, watches the news, cooks dinner are mere illusions. He’s still standing there, same spot, at the little harbour next to a shallow sea.
(yet the beloved ones never come to shallow seas)
I’m sitting on a green armchair. Ropes resembling extremely long fingers are tightly wrapped around me. Someone is standing opposite me but I can only see him from the neck down. He’s standing motionless until he suddenly slits my throat with a move so fast that I don’t even get a glimpse of the blade. The blood is swelling, rising up from my throat to my nostrils and then behind my eyelids. As I’m choking, I watch a parade of creatures from the past. The mouse that comes at night to chew your ear off as sweetly as possible in case you don’t cover up well in bed, the wolf who will eat you up in one gulp in case you leave the playground, the shark who will devour your legs if you swim too far, the snake that is curled up inside a cabbage lurking until you decide to make a salad, the spider who sneaked through your nostril into the labyrinth of your ear and is weaving its web little by little more and more, the crocodile that lives under the shut toilet lid, the yellow-eyed lion with a speaking voice so sexy that it gives you the shudders. The seven wounders of the world. One for each day of the week. I thought it was the eighth day today, the one when I usually rest, yet I can’t take a look at my wall calendar, the one with the sentimental rhymes behind each page, the one I always carry in my pocket. A hand appears from the side, holding a crumpled paper bag. I turn my head and see you chewing something, watching the parade too. You sit beside me on a cinema seat, looking amused. You sit beside me so I am also sitting on a cinema seat, I have no idea where the green armchair is gone. You turn to me and burst into laughter. With your finger you show me all the strange creatures that keep parading in front of us and you burst into laughter. They’re plastic, look at them, fake, and this blood is just ketchup, you tell me and then you dust the ropes off my clothes, the ropes once resembling extremely long fingers yet now looking like candyfloss. You offer me the paper bag. Care for a pumpkin seed?